Local politicians seek legal action after Frontier Nursing moves historic stained glass window

Frontier Nursing moved the window from Leslie County to Versailles
Published: Aug. 19, 2020 at 8:52 PM EDT
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HYDEN, Ky. (WYMT) - The removal of an old stained glass window from a chapel on Frontier Nursing University’s campus is causing an uproar.

In 1939, Mary Breckinridge founded Frontier Nursing. It was the main health care provider in Leslie County for decades.

“I mean she literally went from delivering babies on horseback to having this huge campus to train nurses,” said Ladetra Morgan who lives and teaches in Leslie County.

Breckinridge started Frontier Nursing University in Hyden and on that campus, she built a chapel in 1960. The chapel displayed an old stained glass window depicting St. Christopher.

“She used it for inspiration. I think she says I’m her book she used to stand in front of it and pray to bless the Frontier Nursing Service,” said Hyden Mayor Carol Joseph.

Those in the community say Breckinridge gifted the window to the people of the county.

”There’s no paper trail that we can see. That was just written somewhere so I don’t know the legalities of that but I feel she wanted it to be kept here,” said Joel Brashear, Chairman of the Leslie County Community Foundation.

Frontier Nursing has moved their campus to Versailles and Wednesday they packed up the window and took it to their new campus.

“People here have been outraged. I’ve probably had 150 calls this afternoon people have been here to see me,” said Joseph.

Thursday, Senator Brandon Smith started looking into the legality of the action.

”Hopefully can do a cease and desist to get them to stop taking anything else until this is sorted out,” said Smith.

He told WYMT he is taking it to the Attorney General and hopes to have legislation filed to protect the site.

”I have to put the emotion out of it and stay focused on my job but I’m just going to say they’re not going to get away with this,” said Smith.

People from Leslie County say they feel their history is being stripped away.

“It’s like no one has a voice in this part of the county where people live. It’s all just take, take, take instead of a give and take,” said Morgan. “It’s almost a slap in the face to her legacy of what she would have wanted I think.”

Brashear says Frontier Nursing saying a replica will be placed in the chapel is the most offensive.

”It’s almost like they’re talking down to the people here in Leslie county. It’s like, ‘we’re going to take the original the real thing with us where it’s important. You people in Leslie County the fake will be good enough for you,” said Brashear.

WYMT did reach out to Frontier Nursing for comment. They said in a statement:

“Mary Breckinridge’s faith and dedication inspire us to this day, and it is for that reason that we have made the decision to bring this vital symbol of her work with us as we move our operations to Versailles, Kentucky. We believe that it will continue to inspire generations of advanced practice nurses and midwives. To maintain the beauty and history of the Hyden Chapel, a highly accurate replica of the St. Christopher window is being created using innovative digital photography techniques and will be placed inside the chapel within the near future.”

You can read the full statement below.

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